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Depression Taking Toll on Returning U.S. Vets
Date:8/18/2007

Many feel like 'guests in their own home,' study finds

FRIDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Depression may be a largely unrecognized problem for many U.S. soldiers returning from duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, placing a tremendous strain on them and their families, a new study suggests.

Researchers studied the home life of 168 soldiers diagnosed with psychological symptoms upon their return home from deployment. Nearly half -- 42 percent -- of these veterans said they now felt like a "guest in their own home," and one in five felt their children did not respond warmly to them, or were even afraid of them.

In many of these cases, depression or another psychological problem, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), played a major role, the researchers said.

The PTSD finding has been observed in other studies, but the link between returning veterans' depression and family trouble is new, experts said.

"It seems like other kinds of mental health issues, besides PTSD, are also resulting in family problems," said lead researcher Steven Sayers, an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry and medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

"It all sort of spirals, because if you are not feeling supported by your family members and feeling warmth from your spouse and children, you have greater difficulty recovering from symptoms of depression or PTSD," said Sayers, who is also a clinical psychologist at the Mental Illness Research, Education & Clinical Center, part of the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.

One expert applauded the study, which is to be presented Friday at the American Psychological Association annual meeting in San Francisco.

"It underscores the fact that deployments are tough on all family members -- they're tough on the parent who cares for the children and holds the household together while the soldier is gone, and for the entire family that has to deal with all t
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